Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Democratic Womanism by Alice Walker

[By Simone Savannah]

Alice Walker recently read her new poem, “Democratic Womanism” on Democracy Now! Used throughout her book, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, the “Womanism” is used to describe the perspectives and the experiences of women of color. Though the propaganda surrounding this election has been about women’s issues, including reproductive health and rights, and though candidates have attempted to share their own “feminist” values/beliefs, Walker crafts her poem as a call for a new (Womanist) order. As stated in her poem, she wants Democratic Womanism, “a way of life that honors the feminine; a way that acknowledges the theft of the wisdom female and dark Mother leadership might have provided our spaceship all along”.
From those very lines, it is evident that the speaker believes that something is missing or that something valuable to our progression as a nation has been stolen. Examining her choice to use the word dark, one can imagine that Walker is calling for the wisdom of women of color. Walker even mentions women of color as icons of the movement. Furthermore, Democratic Womanism seeks help from more women to restore the “frail and failing ship”—our nation/world. It recognizes that the Womanist values of “compassion and kindness have been ridiculed and suppressed,” and calls for those values to create a safe and educated community.  Furthermore, as she recalls the past that has silenced women, the speaker also recognizes its other devastating attacks against humanity and the Earth.

Many may not agree with Democratic Womanism or Democratic Socialist Womanism, but the poem provides listeners a brief history lesson and an alternative way of viewing our nation and our world. Most importantly, the poem asks (women) listeners questions. These questions help to kill the silence and give them a chance to create a new order, if only in the boundaries of this poem. Through Walker’s poem, listeners are able to imagine an order where man is still present, but right in the middle. “That's the reason I like it,” she says. “He is right there, front and center. But, he is surrounded.”

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